*String of arrests over recent terror attacks
PM targeted for assassination at drama festival on Friday?

Police are investigating a possible assassination attempt on Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake at Friday’s annual state drama awards ceremony at the BMICH after the arrest of an undercover LTTE operative who had an invitation to the event.

The former Director of the National Film Corporation (NFC) has received the invitation to the event from the Cultural Affairs Ministry. Police spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekera said an LTTE intelligence wing cadre, under interrogation, had implicated the former NFC director.

The police had kept the arrest of the intelligence wing cadre under wraps until they took the former NFC director into custody.

Wickremanayake has repeatedly vowed to wipe out the LTTE at any cost. The Prime Minister recently declared government forces were on the verge of overwhelming the LTTE in their remaining Vanni strongholds and the collapse of the LTTE was rapidly approaching.

The military said the LTTE would try to take a major target in Colombo ahead of the SAARC summit to force the cancellation of the event.

Investigators had recovered 9.5 kilograms of high explosives and a stock of steel balls from the suspects who revealed details of bombing operations mounted by the LTTE in the city and its suburbs.

They had led the investigators to a shop on the top floor of a supermarket in the Kotahena police area where the intelligence wing cadre had turned out a range of explosive devices, particularly suicide kits. Gunasekera said the woman suicide cadre who killed 14 persons including several children and wounded over 100 men, women and children on at the Fort Railway Station on February 3, 2008, had received her suicide jacket from the suspects.

Gunasekera said this was a major breakthrough in police investigations into covert LTTE operations in the city and its suburbs. He said the former NFC director had received the invitation to Friday’s event from a senior official of the Cultural Ministry.

The official said although the LTTE had succeeded in mounting several attacks in Colombo and its suburbs over the past several months, investigators had made significant progress in their inquiries into these incidents.

The recovery of over nine kilograms of explosives comes hard on the heels of the arrest of a gang of LTTE cadres operating in the Wattala police area.

Police said a JVP member of the Western Provincial Council had led the investigators to the gang after he grew suspicious of the person who had rented his house at Kerawalapitiya, Wattala.

The councillor said he called police as the person who rented the house had not brought his wife, children or any furniture to the house although he said he was taking the premises for his family. Instead, some others, including a couple, had moved in.

Police swooped down on them on June 14 arresting six persons and recovering 2.5 kilograms of high explosives. Under interrogation, they led investigators to another stock of 10 kilograms of high explosives stored at Elakanda where two more suspects were taken in.

Investigators said one of the persons arrested at Kerawalapitiya had acted as a senior member of the breakaway LTTE faction. But under interrogation he had acknowledged his real identity.

Devarasa Anandaraka alias Kanagan, an LTTE intelligence operative, was among the six persons arrested at Kerawalapitiya, the sources said. The gang had been tasked with attacking public transport, he said.

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